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How to Prepare for Deployment to Iraq

by Kayla Williams and Michael E. Staub [Love My Rifle More Than You (2005)]

  1. Every night until you deploy, sleep in your vehicle. Or sleep on a cot next to your vehicle.

  2. Sandbag the floor of your vehicle as protection against improvised explosive devices.

  3. Get your semiautomatic rifle and empty a round into the side of your house. And spread gravel throughout the house and yard. For atmosphere.

  4. Find the most annoying alarm sound on your cellphone, and set it to go off at least once each night. At different hours.

  5. Arrange for neighbors to wait until you are sound asleep then come outside and beam a flashlight into your face. Have them tell you that there's an emergency but then immediately change their mind and announce it was a false alarm.

  6. Hire a garbage truck to run all day and all night in your driveway for correct ambient noise. Keep a pit of manure burning for proper fragrance.

  7. Practice being physically separated from your spouse or your girlfriend or boyfriend. Communicate with him/her only via cellphone, e-mail, and snail mail.

  8. Ask two hundred people you don't know, and don't necessarily like, to live with you for a month. Make sure there are at least five times as many men as women.

  9. When it rains, go dig a hole in your backyard. Fill a pail with dirt and stir it with rainwater. Slowly pour this mixture over your entire body.

  10. Once you are good and filthy, use baby wipes to clean yourself. Don't take a proper shower for two weeks. Pretend you don't know what you look or smell like.

  11. Handwash some clothes in dusty water only. Mix and match them with sweat-stained and torn clothes. Wear the combined outfits proudly when you meet with your boss or go to a dinner party.

  12. Never clean your toilet and be sure always to urinate on the bathroom floor. Remove the toilet paper entirely. Better yet, walk to the bathroom at a gas station at least half a mile away. Always carry heavy equipment, a weapon, and a flashlight.

  13. Whenever you feel you have to pass gas, go to the bathroom just in case. Every time.

  14. Take your once-every-two-weeks showers in public, preferably on your front lawn; pretend not to notice that people are staring when you strip.

  15. Only eat food that has been prepared by strangers, making sure that you never have any idea what it is. Or what's in it.

  16. If you drink coffee, be sure to let it sit for several hours before drinking.

  17. Drink all beverages – including water, milk, and soda – either lukewarm or very warm.

  18. Attach a flashlight to the bottom of your cot. Whenever you want to read or write at night, crawl under the cot.

  19. Before you use the telephone, have a family member unplug the phone from the wall so there is no chance you can get through. Attempt to make phone calls anyway. Don't let this affect your morale.

  20. Tell your neighbors that every dog on the block may be rabid. Gather up the dogs, shoot them, and burn them.

  21. Travel in convoys with your neighbors. Drive very slowly, careful to avoid plastic or paper bags in the road (in case they are explosives). Carry your weapon with you at all times. Point it at anyone suspicious. Stop at every bridge and overpass and inspect them for bombs before driving over them.

  22. Travel to the most dangerous neighborhood you can find in an up-armored Humvee. Dig survivability positions with overhead cover. Unroll concertina wire in the streets. Establish checkpoints on every block and tell anyone who wishes to pass through that they will have their vehicles searched upon demand. Tell residents that you are there to improve their situation.

  23. Detonate unexploded ordnance in this neighborhood in the middle of the night. If residents are upset, tell them not to worry, things are going according to plan. If they complain that their living room windows have been shattered by the blasts, reassure them and inform them that plastic should work fine. Tell them glass windows were too dangerous, anyway.

  24. When your child asks for a ball to play with, have him find the precise one he wants on the Internet, type up a Form 9, attach a printout of the web page, put everything in an envelope, mail it to a third party for processing, and tell your child the ball will arrive in just a few weeks.

  25. Just when you think you're ready to resume a normal life, do everything on this list again in order to prepare yourself for the unexpected extension of your deployment.